The Blues have been eclipsed by London rivals Arsenal in the latest edition of Deloitte’s Football Money League, which ranks the world’s top clubs by revenue and is published today.
Chelsea recorded income of €420m (£319.5m) in 2014-15, placing them eighth in the rich list, as they led the domestic title race from start to finish and won the Capital One Cup.
Arsenal posted revenue of €435.5m (£331.3m) to lift them one place to seventh in the Football Money League, having claimed the FA Cup for a second year and finished third in the top flight.
The Gunners benefited from a 34 per cent increase in commercial income to €135.8m (£103.3m), driven by the start of a new kit deal with Puma thought to be worth close to £30m per season.
Current Premier League leaders Arsenal also make the most money of any club on the planet from the match-day experience – €132m (£100.4m) – which includes tickets and other supporter spend at games.
Chelsea’s income for the current season is set for a boost from a new shirt sponsorship deal worth up to £40m per season with tyre-maker Yokohama.
But that increase will be offset by the Blues’ poor on-field performance – they lie 14th in the top division.
Whether Arsenal or Chelsea rank higher in the 2017 Football Money League “could come down to who goes further in the Champions League”, Deloitte’s Dan Jones told City A.M.
Arsenal and Chelsea are among four London teams in the 20 richest, along with Tottenham in 12th and West Ham in 20th, giving the city a claim to being the football capital of the world.
No other city can boast more than two teams in the top 20, although both of Manchester’s are above the London contingent, with United third – and likely to take top spot in next year’s list – and City sixth.
Tottenham climbed one place with revenues of €257.5m (£195.9m) and in the near future are set to benefit from a new £400m, 61,000-seater stadium set for completion in 2018.
West Ham reached their highest position in the rich list for nine years with income of €160.9m (£122.4m) and are expected to enjoy an increase in match-day earnings from a move to the Olympic Stadium next season.
Crystal Palace – 28th, with revenue of €130.8m (£99.5m) – are among eight English teams in places 21-30, a reflection of the Premier League’s vastly superior television contracts.
Real Madrid top the rankings for the 11th consecutive season, with Champions League winners Barcelona second and Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich completing the top five.
City, Arsenal and Chelsea could all soon eclipse Bayern and PSG, making four of the top six English, as Premier League sides’ television income is due to rise again from a new three-year cycle worth an estimated £8bn.
“Maybe not next year, but the year after all three of those could be very strong contenders to Bayern for that top five spot,” added Jones, who edits the Football Money League report.
“If PSG don’t reach the knockout stages of the Champions League then once you get into the new Premier League TV deal I think their top-five spot is vulnerable as well.”
World's 20 richest clubs in depth
(Click or press on the buttons below for an in depth look at each of the top 20 teams)
Data from Deloitte Football Money League 2016. All figures for the 2014/15 season have been translated at the average exchange rate for the year ending 30 June 2015 (£1 = €1.3145)
1. Real Madrid
Real retained top spot in the Football Money League for the 11th year in succession having increased revenue once again in 2014-15, despite losing their Champions League and Copa del Rey titles to arch-rivals Barcelona, who also pipped them to La Liga.
Matchday Revenue: €129.8m (£98.8m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €199.9m (£152.1m)
Commercial Revenue: €247.3m (£188.1m)
Total Revenue: €577m (£439m)
2. FC Barcelona
Barca enjoyed a 16 per cent increase in revenue in 2014-15, lifting them above Manchester United and back into second place in the Football Money League, following a season in which they swept to a Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey treble.
Matchday Revenue: €116.9m (£88.9m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €199.8m (£152m)
Commercial Revenue: €244.1m (£185.7m)
Total Revenue: €560.8m (£426.6m)
3. Manchester United
United may be set to reclaim top spot in the 2017 Football Money League, but they fell to third in this year’s list as the absence of Champions League action in 2014-15 inflicted double-digit decreases on both match-day and broadcast revenue.
Matchday Revenue: €114m (£86.7m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €141.6m (£107.7m)
Commercial Revenue: €263.9m (£200.8m)
Total Revenue: €519.5m (£395.2m)
4. Paris Saint-Germain
PSG grew revenue slightly in a landmark 2014-15 season that saw them win a domestic treble and reach the last eight of the Champions League. Those earnings, swelled by world-leading commercial income of €297m, lifted the Qatar-backed team to fourth in the Football Money League.
Matchday Revenue: €78m (£59.3m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €105.8m (£80.5m)
Commercial Revenue: €297m (£226m)
Total Revenue: €480.8m (£365.8m)
5. Bayern Munich
Bayern won the Bundesliga at a canter again in 2014-15 yet slipped to their lowest position in the Football Money League since 2007. Revenues dipped slightly, notably from commercial streams, where other European giants made ground on the Germans.
Matchday Revenue: €89.8m (£68.3m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €106.1m (£80.7m)
Commercial Revenue: €278.1m (£211.6m)
Total Revenue: 474m (£360.6m)
6. Manchester City
An unremarkable season on the pitch in which they failed to defend Premier League and League Cup titles only slightly slowed City’s rapid revenue growth in 2014-15. Their €463.5m (£352.6m) was still a club record and kept them sixth in the Football Money League.
Matchday Revenue: €57m (£43.4m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €178m (£135.4m)
Commercial Revenue: €228.5m (£173.8m)
Total Revenue: €463.5m (£352.6m)
The Gunners defended the FA Cup in 2014-15 and that success was mirrored by revenue gains which lifted them one place in the Football Money League. Some 85 per cent of their increased income came from commercial streams, notably a new kit deal with Puma.
Matchday Revenue: €132m (£100.4m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €167.7m (£127.6m)
Commercial Revenue: €135.8m (£103.3m)
Total Revenue: €435.5m (£331.3m)
They might have reclaimed the Premier League and won the League Cup but Chelsea’s 2014-15 revenues were hit by a last-16 Champions League exit – they reached the semis the previous season – and slipped behind rivals Arsenal in the Football Money League.
Matchday Revenue: €93.1m (£70.8m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €178.2m (£135.6m)
Commercial Revenue: €148.7m (£113.1m)
Total Revenue: €420m (£319.5m)
The almost-Premier League winning exploits of the previous campaign paid dividends in 2014-15, as Liverpool saw revenue increase by 17 per cent thanks to improved match-day and broadcast earnings related to their return to the Champions League.
Matchday Revenue: €75m (£57.1m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €163.8m (£124.6m)
Commercial Revenue: €153m (£116.4m)
Total Revenue: €391.8m (£298.1m)
Juve won Serie A for a fourth consecutive season, added a record 10th Coppa Italia title and reached the Champions League final in 2014-15, helping boost revenue by 16 per cent and cementing their place in the Football Money League top 10.
Matchday Revenue: €51.4m (£39.1m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €199m (£151.4m)
Commercial Revenue: €73.5m (£55.9m)
Total Revenue: €323.9m (£246.4m)
11. Borussia Dortmund
Despite a turbulent 2014-15 season in which they started disastrously before salvaging seventh place in the Bundesliga and bade farewell to coach Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund posted record revenues, yet the gap between them and the Football Money League top 10 widened.
Matchday Revenue: €54.2m (£41.2m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €82.1m (£62.5m)
Commercial Revenue: €144.3m (£109.8m)
Total Revenue: €280.6m (£213.5m)
12. Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs recorded a nine per cent increase in revenue in 2014-15, thanks largely to a new five-year shirt sponsorship deal with insurers AIA, to climb one place in the Football Money League. On-field they finished fifth domestically and reached the League Cup final.
Matchday Revenue: €54.2m (£41.2m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €125.2m (£95.3m)
Commercial Revenue: €78.1m (£59.4m)
Total Revenue: €257.5m (£195.9m)
13. Schalke 04
The Gelsenkirchen outfit grew revenue marginally and climbed one place in the Football Money League despite a lukewarm 2014-15 season in which Schalke finished outside out of the Bundesliga’s top four for the first time in five years.
Matchday Revenue: €39.2m (£29.8m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €72.6m (£55.2m)
Commercial Revenue: €107.9m (£82.1m)
Total Revenue: €219.7m (£167.1m)
14. AC Milan
AC Milan suffered the largest fall in revenue of any leading club – 20 per cent – as the Rossoneri felt the pinch from a lack of European competition. Having dropped out of the Football Money League top 10 for the first time last year they slipped another two places.
Matchday Revenue: €22.3m (£17m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €79.7m (£60.6m)
Commercial Revenue: €97.1m (£73.9m)
Total Revenue: €199.1m (£151.5m)
15. Atlético de Madrid
The Spanish capital’s second team grew income by 10 per cent in 2014-15 despite failing to match the previous season’s landmark La Liga triumph, yet their total revenue is merely a third of their two biggest rivals, Football Money League top two Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Matchday Revenue: €37.2m (£28.3m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €86.6m (£65.9m)
Commercial Revenue: €63.3m (£48.1m)
Total Revenue: €187.1m (£142.3m)
16. AS Roma
The financial significance of qualifying for the Champions League was underlined by Roma’s 42 per cent revenue growth, which was driven by their return to the competition in 2014-15 and lifted them back into the Football Money League top 20.
Matchday Revenue: €30.4m (£23.1m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €114m (£86.7m)
Commercial Revenue: €36m (£27.4m)
Total Revenue: €180.4m (£137.2m)
17. Newcastle United
The Magpies climbed two places in the Football Money League despite recording a drop in revenue (in sterling) in 2014-15, as they endured a difficult campaign that saw them only avoid relegation to the second tier on the last day of the season.
Matchday Revenue: €35.2m (£26.8m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €101.4m (£77.1m)
Commercial Revenue: €32.7m (£24.9m)
Total Revenue: €169.3m (£128.8m)
A slight increase in revenue, following a run to the last 16 of the Europa League and despite a mid-table finish in the 2014-15 Premier League as well as early cup exits, lifted the Toffees two places in the Football Money League.
Matchday Revenue: €24.6m (£18.7m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €114.1m (£86.8m)
Commercial Revenue: €26.4m (£20.1m)
Total Revenue: €165.1m (£125.6m)
Flat revenues for 2014-15 dragged Inter, who were in the Football Money League top 10 just four years ago, further down the pecking order. A failure to qualify for this season’s European competition will dent their chances of improving in the 2017 list.
Matchday Revenue: €22.2m (£16.9m)
Broadcasting Revenue: €97.2m (£74m)
Commercial Revenue: €45.4m (£34.5m)
Total Revenue: €164.8m (£125.4m)
20. West Ham United
The Hammers are back in the Football Money League top 20 after a nine-year absence following a five per cent growth in revenue during 2014-15. That was driven by increased broadcast income but also helped by a club-record commercial deal with Betway.